Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga are involved in an altercation following Saturday’s shocking 5-2 loss to West Brom, a game the Chelsea head coach still fails to understand.
Chelsea found themselves at the end of a humiliating defeat to the Premier League’s second team, conceding five goals in a home league game for the first time since October 2011.
Likewise, West Brom has scored five times on the road for the first time in over nine years.
Thiago Silva’s sending off as Chelsea led 1-0 was seen as the turning point, with Matheus Pereira scoring a brace just before the break, before Callum Robinson repeated the feat in the second half. Mbaye Diagne got the Baggies’ other goal, Mason Mount’s strike being just consolation.
If the loss wasn’t bad enough, reports emerged the next day claiming Rudiger and Kepa had been involved in a fight in training.
Although Chelsea have not commented publicly on the matter, Tuchel was open to the situation at Tuesday’s press conference as he addressed the media ahead of the club’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Porto. .
“It was not [serious]. It was an incident in training and he warmed up between Toni and Kepa, ”said Tuchel. “We immediately calmed the situation. I don’t wanna minimize things artificially, we don’t wanna accept [such incidents] but they can happen because everyone is competitive in practice matches.
“The reaction, Toni and Kepa, has been incredible. They showed how much they respected each other. They purified the air and there was nothing left a day later.
“We talked about the problem and then it was resolved. This is the main part. It will stay with us, it was not a problem. They resolved it right after training in an honest and humble manner and it showed me that they have a good character.
But although he initially played down the incident, Tuchel backed down and emphasized the gravity of what happened.
“It was serious,” he continued. “Sometimes you have little situations where you look away and let them sort things out. We had to intervene in this situation, so it was serious. The way the guys handled the situation was impressive and showed character, but the situation was serious.
“That he came out [leaked]… I’m getting used to it in modern times. There are too many channels and means of disseminating information. I even heard that some of my debriefings from the game were also being broadcast. Ok, that’s not cool but I’m not going to focus on who the leak is or anything. I don’t want to lose my confidence in the group so I will accept it. “
Regarding a penalty, Tuchel confirmed that Rudiger will play on Wednesday and added: “No, no penalty so far due to the way they have handled it. The reaction was immediate, they made everyone understand what had happened. Toni fixed it directly, which was necessary. It was a strong and courageous thing to do and the right thing to do.
Tuchel quickly used the scrap to bring attention back to Chelsea’s misfortune against West Brom, saying statistics for the game suggested they would normally have won.
“It’s very natural that there is a reaction to a result and a game like this, so you have to adapt,” said the German. “It’s a strong part of the sport at this level that guys hate to lose. So if we take a big loss in a weird game, it’s normal for there to be some reaction.
“You have to swallow it and accept that we’ve lost the game. Then, it is important that we are reliable in the analysis of the game. We cannot only have meetings based on the result. We can be critical after wins and we can point out the things we love even though we lost 5-2.
“Part of the story of this game is that we won all the stats against West Brom, all of them with 10 men and 11 men, all the stats that count to win games. Even the expected goals [xG], we won the bypassed defenders, we won hits in the box, we won shots at targets – we won it all.
“If we played the same game again, I would bet a lot of money that we will win 99 times out of 100.”
And Tuchel has a point – in terms of xG, Chelsea edged West Brom 2.1-1.6, meaning the visitors were incredibly clinical with their taking of the chance.
Nonetheless, West Brom’s xG value was comfortably the highest recorded by any team against Chelsea since Tuchel’s appointment in January.
With a man advantage, West Brom certainly capitalized on the extra time and space in the final third.